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Dr. Phil & Robin's do-it-yourself marriage makeover

Marriage busters

The famous couple talks about how to cope with the 5 biggest relationship busters, and their stay-together secrets for no-longer newlyweds
Marriage busters

Problem 5: Career Concerns

Dr. Phil: Obviously, a lot has been said about the guilt some stay-at-home moms feel — how they wrongly say things like, "I'm just a housewife," or "I'm just a mom," when, clearly, that's so false: The work a stay-at-home mom does in caring for a family and a home is tremendous and exhausting and awe-inspiring. It's the toughest job I know, because you start early and you work late 365 days a year. You couldn't pay me enough to do that job.

But women who return to the workplace often feel hugely guilty, too, and that can put a lot of strain on a marriage, especially if her spouse is sitting there feeling resentful that she has a life outside of her home and her family.

Whether you work inside or outside the home, the important thing is that before you can have a conversation with your husband about it, you have to have one with yourself. You've got to look inside and ask, "What do I want?" If you're staying home out of guilt because you feel like that's the only way to be a good mom, then you're cheating yourself and your kids. I always tell women: If you love your children, then take care of their mother. If you deny yourself the opportunity to feel fulfilled, to feel like you're using your gifts, your skills, and your abilities, then your kids are going to get a mother that's got an emptiness to her; they're going to get a mother that has a lot of frustration in her life.

So it's OK to embrace a return to the workplace. Even if you've returned to work not out of choice but because you need the money, you can choose to see your job as a chance to be around adults, to get away and recharge your batteries. And sometimes it's just good not to have to cut up someone's food at lunchtime.

You know, I talked to a mother not long ago, and she said, "My children are 6 years old and I've never spent a single night away from them." She was proud of that, but, listen, it's not a good thing. Kids need to know that you can go away and you come back. And you need to know that you can go away and they won't shrivel up and die. It's OK for them to depend on other people, as well as you.

But if you have a husband who is resentful of the time you spend at work, who expects you to be the sole cook, sole housekeeper, sole caretaker for everyone, then it's up to you to get his expectations in line. See, it all comes back to having realistic expectations. If your husband thinks you can work, and care for your kids, and care for him, and do it all on your own, then he needs a reality check. And that's up to you: You teach people how to treat you. So if he's sitting there, expecting you to fetch him a drink, it's because you've taught him that you'll be fetching it for him. And that can change tonight. He's got arms, he's got legs, he can get up off the recliner and get it himself.

Robin: I never had any resentment about the fact that I had chosen to stay home. But I think a lot of women who don't work outside the home need to focus on remembering who they are. Remember: You can choose to stay at home and still feel entitled to equal say in the decisions that are made for your family. You are more than worth it.

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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: Dr. Phil & Robin's Do-It-Yourself Marriage Makeover
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